JAMES CITY — It could've been a football season of what-ifs for Warhill High junior Devonte Dedmon. There were 13 quarters, the equivalent of more than three games, when Dedmon was either sidelined or severely slowed by ankle and rib injuries or the flu.
But what Dedmon did during those six-plus games when he was comparatively healthy was amazing. So amazing that Dedmon, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior, is the 2012 Daily Press All-Stars Offensive Player of the Year.
Dedmon, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and has the ability to make the smallest crease seem like a crater, rushed for most of his 1,348 yards and 16 touchdowns in Warhill's six wins. Dedmon also completed 8 of 13 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns, caught 19 passes for 360 yards and three scores, and ran for seven 2-point conversions.
"Devonte is a very tough kid, mentally and physically," Warhill coach Billy Jarvis said. "He's a great competitor, and even when he was hurt in practice, he wanted to go full-speed.
"He never took a play off."
He probably should've taken the York game off. After accounting for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a little more than a half of the 20-17 season-opening win over Park View of South Hill, Dedmon sprained his ankle and left the game.
"It was painful, but my team needed me after out there," Dedmon said of acting primarily as a decoy wide receiver in the 34-8 loss to York. "My team needed me out there because I'm seen as a threat running, passing and receiving."
The ankle would not heal completely until late in the season, Jarvis said. But it was healthy enough for Jarvis to move him the next week from the perimeter to running back and wildcat quarterback.
A threat to handle the ball almost every play from those positions, Dedmon would have only two more ordinary games. In one, he was knocked out in the first quarter by a fierce hit to the ribs. In the other, he played with a flu bug that made him "feel sicker than I've ever been in my life."
In five of the final eight regular-season games, he put together spectacular performances that wowed opposing coaches.
Warhill 32, Poquoson 14: Dedmon ran for 212 yards and three touchdowns, completed both pass attempts for 101 yards and a TD and scored three 2-point conversions.
"There were a couple of times we thought we had him bottled up, and he had runs of more than 60 yards," Poquoson coach Elliott Duty said. "Once he sees a hole, he's got the quickness to get through it.
"He's one of those special athletes like a Dyrell Roberts or a Bryan Randall."
Warhill 34, New Kent 18: Dedmon ran for 171 yards and a touchdown, caught three passes for 73 yards and a TD, completed 2 of 3 passes for 41 yards and a TD and scored a 2-pointer.
"He was really a one-man wrecking crew," New Kent coach Dan Rounds said. "He has such great vision and is so slippery, it's rare you get a good hit on him."
Warhill 28, Grafton 10: Dedmon ran for 234 yards and two touchdowns, caught four passes for 62 yards and a TD, completed a pass for a 43-yard touchdown and scored a 2-point conversion.
"Our game plan was to force him to throw because he'd struggled doing that the year before," Grafton coach Jared Van Acker said. "So we played man coverage, and when he rolled out like he was going to run, our defensive backs' eyes went into the backfield.
"He'd obviously learned to throw since last year."
Warhill 32, Tabb 19: Dedmon ran for 289 yards and four touchdowns, completed his only pass for a 51-yard touchdown and scored a 2-point conversion.
"We knew, based on where he was lined up, where he was going to get the ball," Tabb coach Matt Lawson said. "But his foot quickness and hip movement are so much better than the guys we had defending him.
"You think during the game your guys messed up. Then you watch the film and realize nobody messed up, that he just made a great play."
Warhill 27, Jamestown 0: Dedmon ran for 214 yards and all four touchdowns. The Lions, long the district doormat, finished the regular season 6-4 and reached the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Two days later, he was selected Bay Rivers District Offensive Player of the Year over close friend Jahlil Green of Lafayette, who ran for 1,559 yards and 19 touchdowns. Dedmon admits that Green, a youth football teammate, was often his motivation for playing hurt.
"After all the injuries and illnesses and everybody saying I wasn't as good as Jahlil, it meant a lot to win (district) Player of the Year," Dedmon said. "It meant a lot for our school, too.
"Jahlil's like a brother, and it's a competition between us. He heard about it before I did, and called to tell me and congratulate me."
Deon Newsome | Hampton | senior: He played the position out of necessity, but he did well enough to account for 2,168 yards (1,141 rushing, 1,027 passing) and 29 TDs. Committed to Virginia Tech as an athlete.
Khalid Abdullah | Heritage | senior: The Peninsula District Offensive Player of the Year rushed for 1,611 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was a workhorse with an average of 22 carries per game. Off to James Madison.
Tony Pittman | Phoebus | senior: Probably would have broken 2,000 if not for the two games he missed. As it was, he finished with 1,784 yards and 22 TDs. He had 321 and five in two games vs. Hampton.
Jahlil Green | Lafayette | junior: Speedy transfer from West Point High led the Bay Rivers District with 1,546 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns, giving the Rams their third consecutive district rushing champion.
Seth Hatcher | West Point | senior: Playing for the pass-oriented Pointers, Hatcher had 48 receptions for 1,103 yards and 15 TD. Had a monster game vs. Middlesex with eight catches for 302 and four TDs.
Jesse Santiago | Grafton | senior: Master of the fade route and jump-ball reception, he had 34 receptions for 514 yards and eight touchdowns. Committed to scholarship to play at William and Mary.
Tyreek Bailey | Phoebus | senior: The Phantoms love the power running game, and you can't have it without a great offensive line. And it all starts with Bailey, who also made the all-district team.
Johnny Cruz | York | senior: At 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, he was a space eater, but the Region I first-team selection's agility, mobility and mean streak made him a hard hitter.
Walt Brantley | Phoebus | junior: At right guard, he helped pave the way for a running game that averaged 235 rushing yards a game and 6.1 per carry.
Peter Hurst | Lafayette | senior: Those 35 points and 350 rushing yards the Rams routinely put up were because of guys like right tackle Hurst, a second-team all-state selection who averaged three knockdown blocks a game.
Parker Osterloh | Warhill | senior: The 6-foot-8, 300-pound Virginia Tech commitment distinguished himself with his versatility to play several line positions, before settling in as a very effective tackle.
Parker Kindley | Lafayette | senior: A block-first,block-hard tight end, Kindley landed on the all-district first team in part because of solid receiving numbers: 19 catches, 361 yards, three touchdowns.
Devonte Dedmon | Warhill | junior: Name it and he did it — ran for 1,348 yards and 16 TDs, had five touchdown passes among eight completions and 19 receptions. Also stood out as a returner and DB.
Dillon Christopher | Menchville | senior: Didn't match last year's 60-yard field goal, but he still made six, including one from 47 and another from 43. You'll likely see him kicking on Saturdays somewhere.
Richie Staton | Phoebus | senior: He didn't start returning kicks until the season's fifth game, but he ended up with five touchdowns — three on kickoffs, two on punts. All told, he scored 14 TDs five ways.
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